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Building Brand Advocates Starts with Verifiable Attributes

There’s been a lot of talk in the industry over the last few years about the new consumer, how they’re no longer brand loyal and they only care about landing a deal. And while it’s true that it is more challenging to grab shoppers’ attention today—let alone convince them to pry their wallets open a bit more—it’s not impossible. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that shows consumers will spend when companies deliver on their brand promises. Not only that, they’ll also become a brand’s best friend, eagerly spreading the word within their friend circles and their social followings.

But too often brands are careless with these hard-fought-for advocates. By offering inferior products and inflating claims, they turn them into disillusioned naysayers, undoing all the effort it took to win them over in the first place.

“It’s all about the trust, and the promises that a brand makes are sacred,” said MeiLin Wan, vice president, textile sales at Applied DNA Sciences. “The investment in goodwill and trust with your customer takes years to develop, but one wrong turn can destroy that trust in a minute especially with the speed of information and all the unknown paths it can take.”

Just ask Volkswagen. After the carmaker was caught cheating on emissions tests, it paid a reported $30 billion in fines and penalties—not to mention the hefty cost of a tarnished brand. Examples of companies that have suffered after disappointing their fans is long, and it spans all industries. In textiles, both Walmart and Target endured their own PR headaches after they discovered that bedding they sold as Egyptian cotton proved to be anything but.

The crux of the problem typically are long, complex supply chains—many of which rely on trust as products change hands and most processes take place thousands of miles away.

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At Applied DNA, CertainT, the company’s molecular tagging platform, is designed to provide peace of mind in today’s high stakes environment. “Trust is preserved if and only if you have a traceability system in place,” Wan said. “The CertainT platform helps to provide checks and balances. It ensures that quality and integrity of the source materials are preserved, and it provides a forensic means of verification on the physical goods as they move throughout the process from start to finish.”

CertainT ensures authenticity by allowing a company to embed any element of a product or the finished good itself with a unique molecular tag, which then can be tracked throughout the supply chain and tested for at any time. In this way, the brand and retailer have demonstrable proof that the products they’re offering are the real deal.

Not only is a traceable solution like this helpful in minimizing risk, it can also allow companies to stand out in the crowd—and open new doors.

Just by offering verifiable product features, Wan said several Applied DNA clients have had the opportunity to boost sales through both existing and new retail channels. “CertainT allows them to keep the sales they have, and in our experience, increase sales because they can have a meaningful dialogue with their customers about managing quality, consistency of product,” she said. “From a marketing and PR perspective, the brands and manufacturers are able to tell a story that is authentic and build on the emotional connection with the consumer better than they were able to do previously. Every one rises together.”

Looking ahead, Wan said traceability will play a key role in the sustainability efforts many retailers and brands have embarked on, as consumers demand more than just assurances. “Sustainability without traceability is just words,” she said. “The magic happens when CEOs and their teams recognize that you don’t get to make your 2030 sustainability or corporate social responsibility goals without having a traceability program in place.”

Wan expects more executives to embrace sustainability going forward, as they realize that even investors have become enchanted by its ability to drive responsible—and profitable—business practices.

The double influence from shareholders and shoppers is the future of the apparel industry, one that will demand traceability as a part of the mix. “There is a yearning from the public, to have information that is not just hearsay and opinion, but to have more impartial information that can help them with their daily lives,” she said.

Applied DNA Sciences makes life real and safe by providing innovative, molecular-based technology solutions and services that can help protect products, brands, entire supply chains, and intellectual property of companies, governments and consumers from theft, counterfeiting, fraud and diversion. Learn more at